First up is Alex’s take:
In an age where the Internet exists, record labels are still dropping an exorbitant amount of money to promote their artist’s albums. Before I get well actually’d, I understand why they do it. The theory is the more money you spend promoting an artist and having them more visible to the public, the better their album sales will do, which will, in turn, make you more money. I’m a marketing major; I get it, I get it.
The thing that I don’t understand is: why don’t record labels tap into the most popular microcosm on this planet to promote albums? The Internet is free self-promotion for better or for worse. It’s its own brand of promotion entirely. Don’t get me wrong, many record labels do and they’re better off for it. But, for every record label that recognizes the power of the Internet, there’s one that doesn’t and ends up spending ludicrous amounts of money for less-than-desirable results. (Looking at you, Interscope and Lady Gaga.)
[Enter BEYONCÉ, draped in golden linens]
Beyoncé doesn’t play by the same rules as you and I do. No, Beysus Christ is the Queen for a reason. Outside of a mention of a possible single come early December, there had been nary a whisper of a Beyoncé album on the Internet. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, she dropped her new self-titled album in the early hours of the morning on Friday the 13th. There wasn’t a leak, a torrent, a .zip file, a .wav file that needs to be converted into another type of file via unpacking program in order to download it, nothing.
How did something this massive—14 tracks and a music video counterpart—go unnoticed by everyone not involved with the project? It had to be a grandiose production just on the musical side of the project, let alone the music videos. How did no one leak this?
The easiest answer is that Beyoncé is a member of the illuminati. It certainly isn’t a coincidence that her album dropped on Friday the 13th—that was planned by the illuminati overlords themselves. Or, album leaks happen on purpose and it’s not that hard to deter one. That’s not new information. No, the calculated leak has permeated the music culture ever since the Internet became an influencing factor, but it is still impressive that not a single word about this project leaked.
The most probable answer is the easiest: we have no idea. There’s absolutely no reason that Beyoncé should’ve been able to hide this project. (14 tracks, plus a music video for each song—are you serious?) There’s absolutely no way that it should’ve been possible to keep this album quiet for this long. There’s no reason that saying, “Hey, here’s an album. Enjoy!” should’ve worked.
But, like I said, Beyoncé isn’t cut from the same cloth as we are. She understands what many don’t in that the Internet plays an all too important role in how well your album does. She understands that virility, in 2013, is more important than content. (That isn’t a knock on the album’s content; more so on our culture.) She understands that she is one of, maybe, two people with a big enough audience and Internet clout to be able to pull this off. (Please, don’t try this, artists not named Justin Bieber or Beyoncé.) So, she just swooped down from the heavens and dropped her album on us like the diva-angel-deity she is. Not a single word was uttered beforehand; she let the Internet do that for her. Bless you, Beyoncé.
Marketing is key, but sometimes, though rarely, the best way to market something is by doing no promo at all.
This is exactly what Beyoncé did last night when she made her new album, “Beyoncé”, appear out of thin air. No commercials, singles, videos, interviews or anything before that single moment in time alluded to a new album being served up. Marketing could not and would not be allowed to sully this extraordinary display of diva superpowers. This was an undeniable flex move, but it was flex through finesse.
Every so often the roll-out of an album is just as intriguing if not more than the album itself. Bey’s other half, Jay Z, accomplished this with his brother-in-arms Kanye with the release of “Watch The Throne”. One of the big hooks of the album was there would be absolutely ZERO leaks before release. Reports surfaced about Jay & Ye having the only copies of the music, and that they kept the music on USB-lanyards and on their person at all times. Then there was the fact they didn’t email ANYTHING, because it’s often the source of modern day leaks. Then came the industry rippling twist that the album would release on iTunes a full week before brick-and-mortar stores could join into the fray. These things interested me as much as the album.
Just recently, Childish Gambino released “Because The Internet”. There was a lot of hoopla leading up to the release date with Bino being all over social media creating a stir in various ways. He continued to keep people talking by having such an expansive package to accompany the music. A short film, interviews and non-interviews, a screenplay, Twitter accounts to accompany characters in the screen play and even being helpful in comment sections of Torrent sites for those who decided to illegally acquire his newest venture.
Both of these were refreshing from the roll-out and promo/marketing perspective of album deliveries, but both of them might have had their spirits snatched by this Shang Tusng-esque Yoncé release.
Third Ward Trill did something I feel Kanye dreams of doing. She cooked something up over however many months with nary a soul making a peep. We got “Bow Down” earlier in the year, started salivating and then threw it in the false flag pile. We got a tour, salivated some more and made the pile even bigger. We were resolute in thinking there would be no new release until 2014. We, in essence, were caught with our pants down in the way Kanye probably envisions for a future release of his own. He skirted those lines with “Yeezus” at the outset, but we knew it was coming. We knew about minor hiccups & him bringing in the gawd Rick Rubin in the final moments. We had releases to dissect and crucify with “Yeezus”. Sure, he went bare-bones as far as marketing, and included pretty non-radio friendly songs – minus the beauty of Uncle Charlie on “Bound” – but nothing about it took us by complete surprise.
This, this right here? This was shock and awe marketing at its finest. Promo through no promo. Shake up people’s musical lives in such a way that the fallout will spread to their furthest ideological coasts. Beyoncé gave us 14 tracks on top of a video for each one, and was also benevolent enough for a few bonus videos. She did this under the cover of darkness so that she could shine ever so bright. There were zero dollars spent outside of the product itself, and this will result in maximum word of mouth, tweets, blogging and publication coverage.
Bey did the damn thing, y’all. She showed us what can be done, and who can and can’t do it (talking to you, Lupe). These are footsteps that mere mortals should not attempt to follow in.
Now, I’m not part of the BeyHive, but I’ll be damned if I try to stop it from buzzing.